In early December, former boyband member Harry Styles was featured on the cover of Vogue’s December issue, making him the first man to have appeared solo on the magazine’s cover. The singer can be seen wearing a pale blue Gucci ball gown and a black tuxedo jacket to send a message that fashion is borderless. “There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. I’ve never thought too much about what it means-it just becomes this extended part of creating something,” said Styles for Vogue.
While tons of devoted fans responded with words such as ‘Yasss,’ ‘Stunning,’ and ‘Couldn’t agree more,” a conservative commentator and political activist Candace Owens said that Styles’ image would destroy the very own existence of society.
“There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. In the West, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men,” said Owens on Twitter.
She took the conversation to Instagram, where she made a 9-minute video explaining her points on “bring back manly men.” Owens believes that leftists “hate anything normal,” and they can’t stand to see the idea that things are functioning and working. The 31-year-old went further to say that she won’t be asking for help from a man who wears a dress and that “those kinds of man” would not be suitable to fight in a war.
History might have shown us plenty of men who changed the world and fought in wars, but does the survival of society, of the world, really rely heavily on men who only wear pants? What is the definition of ‘manly men’ or ‘strong men’ anyway?
Society has formed this idea that true men should repress their emotions, they are not supposed to cry, should be the backbone of their family, and they are basically this superficial being who can’t have a mental break down. If the world has taught us something, it is that these ideas have made a lot of people suffered. If “manly men” are so functional and working, then why are there so many cases of domestic violence? Why are there so many cases of substance abuse among men?
As a woman who grew up in a conservative country, I know many women and LGBTIQ+ people who are victims of a culture that says who they are and how they look will limit their potentials. Many Indonesians still believe that education is a waste for women because they’ll end up being married and become housewives. Parents who can’t afford to send their daughters to school would make them marry working men. UNICEF reported that Indonesia has the eighth highest number of child marriages globally, with one in nine women married before they turned 18 years old.
In the other hand, the existence of LGBTIQ+ community is considered as a disease in the country. Many have fled the country to feel safe and those who stay would never admit publicly that they are one. From these cases, the only logical explanation why those who changed the world are mostly “manly men” is because our society did not give women and the LGBTIQ+ community the chance to do something, to be somebody.
If there’s anything more toxic in this world, it is not a picture of a former boyband member in a dress, but rather the idea that “manly men” are the key to our survival. Why does our appearance, what we wear, and who we are should limit our potential? Who says women can’t fight in battles? Who says that men who wear dress can’t build rockets? And who can guarantee that Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton never wears a dress or skirt anyway?